The Minnesota Swarm (4-4) snapped a three-game losing streak on Sunday night by defeating the Colorado Mammoth (1-7) 12-10 in front of 15,825 fans at the Pepsi Center.
Halfway through the 2011 season, Minnesota sits in second place in the West Division and trails the first place Calgary Roughnecks (5-3) by 1.0 game heading into the All-Star break.
Minnesota’s leading scorer F Ryan Benesch registered a game-high six points (5g, 1a) and G Nick Patterson made 47 saves on 57 shots in the win. Benesch’s fifth goal of the night came late in the fourth quarter and sealed the win for Minnesota. Benesch’s score also tied him for the league lead in goals at 25 with Boston F Casey Powell.
After losing at home the night before to the Boston Blazers 14-11, the Swarm once again found itself in trouble on Sunday. The Mammoth built an early 4-1 lead at the end of the first quarter and extended its advantage to 5-1 after D Mac Allen (1g, 1a) tallied a goal 17 seconds into the second.
Colorado’s momentum would run out of gas from that point on. A goal from F Kevin Ross (1g, 2a) ended four unanswered goals from the Mammoth and ignited a four-goal run on Minnesota’s side. After Ross’ goal, T Andrew Watt (2g), T Rich Morgan (1g), F Mat Giles (1g, 1a) all found the back of the net to tie the game at 5-5. Colorado would grab its last lead of the night at 6-5 when F Brian Langtry (1g, 4a) notched a goal with 1:02 remaining in the half.
Benesch then continued his string of last second goals to close out quarters when he buried a goal with just 4.7 seconds in the first half to send the game tied at halftime 6-6.
Benesch picked right up where he left off in the first half by scoring the opening goal in second half, which gave Minnesota its first lead of the night at 7-6. Former Mammoth F Jamie Shewchuk (1g, 1a) then recorded a score against his old teammates to extend Minnesota’s lead to 8-6. Benesch added another tally and the Swarm held Colorado scoreless in the third to build a 9-6 advantage heading into the fourth.
Minnesota extended its lead to 11-6 after F Aaron Wilson (1g, 4a) registered his first score of the game with 12:24 left to play. Colorado would make one last comeback, cutting its deficit to 11-9 with less than five minutes to play. With four notches already on the night, Benesch added his fifth with 1:38 remaining and shut the door on Colorado’s comeback.
Despite giving up four early goals in the first, Patterson settled down and allowed only six goals in the game’s final three quarters. In that time, Patterson made 41 saves on 47 shots.
The Swarm also managed to stop two Mammoth 5-on-3 chances Sunday night and went 5-for-8 overall on penalty kills. After scoring the Colorado’s first two goals, F John Grant (2g, 2a) was held scoreless the rest of the game.
Minnesota will have next weekend off because of the 2011 NLL All-Star game. The game will be played on Sunday, Feb. 27 at 1 p.m. CT at the Turning Stone Resort Casino in Verona, New York and will be televised live nationally on VERSUS. The Swarm has four All-stars participating in F Ryan Benesch, G Nick Patterson, F Callum Crawford and T Andrew Watt. Both Benesch and Patterson will start for the West.
Minnesota returns to action on Friday, March 4 at 8 p.m. CT and will again travel to the Pepsi Center to take on the Colorado Mammoth.
Lower level single game tickets can be purchased for as low as $24 for 2011 home games. Tickets are available online at mnswarm.com or by calling 888-MN-SWARM.